The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

America's Trillion Dollar Leaky-Pipe Bill

Water Infrastructure Issues USA

America's got a plumbing problem. The country's aging water infrastructure is leaking, and the plumber just came in with an estimate: $1 trillion, payable over the next 25 years.

That's the figure given by American Water Works Association, an industry training and research group, to ensure clean and abundant water in a country that's grown to expect it. Unfortunately the bank account needed to pay this bill -- government spending and bonds backed by taxes and utility bills -- is running dry.

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. Many sustainability strategists we interview say they feel emboldened by increased attention to the topic even during the Great Recession. But corporate actions don't always match their intentions. GreenBiz this month downgraded six of 20 environmental indicators in its recently released State of Green Business Report 2012. The group's research showed performance declines among companies in clean energy investment, energy efficiency, green offices, packaging, toxic emissions and toxics in manufacturing. The authors wrote: "Simply put, sustainable business is suffering a recessionary hangover."

And now the news:

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Men in Finance Have `Reprehensible' Dominance

Ratio of Women and Staff Board Members

Finance is the most lopsided industry in the MSCI World Index when it comes to appointing women as directors and promoting them to management positions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Chart of the Day shows how banks, insurers and asset managers in the index of stocks in 24 markets have a disproportionately low percentage of female board members compared with employees, 51 percent of whom are women. Finance also scores lowest in matching the percentages of women workers and managers. The materials sector, including mining companies, does best in balancing its female workforce and directors, though in that industry just 18 percent of employees are women.

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. On today's menu: coffee, and lots of it. Starbucks plans to open its first store in India by August, becoming one of the first companies to take advantage of new rules opening the doors to foreign chains. The upside: an enormous new market where coffee consumption doubled in the last decade. The downside: increasing strain on already stressed supplies of specialty coffee beans. Rising temperatures and unusual rainfalls in Central South America have curtailed crops in recent years, a trend that's forecast to continue. As the global leader of easy-listening coffee shops puts it on its website: "In addition to increased erosion and infestation by pests, coffee farmers are reporting shifts in rainfall and harvest patterns that are hurting their communities and shrinking the available usable land in coffee regions around the world."

And now the news:

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No One Knows What It Means But Everybody Does It Anyway

Christoph Lueneburger

Number one frequently asked question: What is sustainability? For some clarity on what people talk about when they talk about it, we went to a man who helps companies define it.

Christoph Lueneburger is head of the sustainability practice at executive recruiter Egon Zehnder International. His 22-member team has placed many chief sustainability officers, and last year started finding CEOs for companies who have particular needs for sustainability leadership in their sectors. He spoke by phone last week with Eric Roston, Bloomberg’s sustainability editor.

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BP Must Clean up Its Own Mess: Hot off the Griddle

Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. A federal judge in New Orleans ruled Friday that BP can't collect clean-up costs from Transocean, the company's drilling contractor involved in the 2010 Gulf oil spill. For BP it's another episode of the disaster's "economic effects and the long term-damage to the reputation of the company." That's the phrase used by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) in 2010 when they booted BP from the DJSI World Index six weeks into the spill. Sometimes it takes what Dow Jones calls "extraordinary events" to reveal just how unprepared a company is to deal with extraordinary events.

And now the news:

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Measuring the Hot Air in Davos

Davos from Above

Carbon consciousness is plentiful at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where the world's filthy rich went this week to try to hash out some of the world’s most intractable problems. Less plentiful than expected: carbon pollution.

Picarro, a California-based maker of machines to measure greenhouse gases, set out to show just how much pollution the annual meeting of high-minded financiers releases into the air. The results? Negative. Davos emissions have dipped up to 50 percent since the start of the conference.

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Good afternoon, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. Farmers, gardeners, and seed-stockers take note: the world is getting warmer, and it's time to adjust your plans. That's the message behind a new, interactive U.S. Department of Agriculture "Plant Hardiness Zone Map," which shows the northward shift of the best places to grow crops. Across the Atlantic, the U.K.'s food and rural affairs department sent farmers a similar message yesterday with a national climate forecast: sugar beets and wheat yields will benefit from the rising temperatures. Sustainability means taking advantage of the opportunities, as well as coping with the risks, of the changing planet.

And now this week's best of Bloomberg Sustainability:

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The World's Most Sustainable Company: Hot off the Griddle

Good afternoon, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest maker of insulin, is also the most sustainable corporation in the world. That's the conclusion of Corporate Knights magazine, which ranks companies annually based on 11 metrics, including carbon productivity (sales per greenhouse gas pollution) and taxes paid. A new category appeared this year: Employee Turnover. Sustainability is many things, and a pathway to a healthy organization is one if them. Companies often wave the green flag less to save the planet than to save themselves.

And now the news:

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Sustainability = On the Agenda = Profits

Businesses Reporting Sustainability is on the Agenda

Two big questions about the ill-defined practice we call "sustainability:" 1) Are companies really doing it?; and 2) Can it make money?

The answer to both is yes, according to MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group. They surveyed more than 3,000 business managers and executives from 113 countries for their third annual report on corporate sustainability. While the survey does nothing to help define sustainability and how it should be measured, the results show that whatever "it" is, companies are totally into it.

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor
eroston@bloomberg.net

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor
trandall6@bloomberg.net

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